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Google is about to flip the switch on a massive new experiment that could impact up to 50 percent of all web users. On February 15, Google Chrome’s built-in ad blocker is going to go into effect, and the world of online advertising is almost certainly going to change. It’s not just advertisers who will pay the price for “bad ads” – it will be any website that continues to run these ads.
That’s an important point to keep in mind for online businesses – this Google ad blackout coming in February is an “all-or-nothing” proposition. If your website runs even a single ad that Google doesn’t deem worthy of its standards, then Google Chrome will block every single ad on your website – even the ads that don’t run afoul of the new advertising guidelines.
Understand which ads are part of the Google Chrome blackout and take action
The starting point for any business, of course, is learning which ads are going to be part of the Google Ad Blackout, and which are not. Google says that it is basing its decisions on guidelines provided by The Coalition For Better Ads. And according to this organization, examples of ads that won’t make the cut include full-page ad takeovers, ads that auto-play sound and video, and any interstitial ads that take over your webpage with some kind of countdown clicker you can’t avoid.
If your website runs any of these types of ads, then you’re officially “on notice” from Google. In fact, your business may already have received a warning letter from Google letting you know that you have 30 days to clean up your website. The important point here is that the onus of this new Google Ad Blackout falls squarely on the shoulders of website operators. It’s up to them to reject any ads that don’t meet Google’s guidelines.
The next step, of course, is to understand the scope of what this means for your online business. Google Chrome is now the world’s most popular web browser, accounting for nearly 50 percent of all users. So the safe, back-of-the-envelope calculation here is that nearly 50 percent of your website visitors will be affected by this change. Instead of seeing beautiful ads on your website, they may see black boxes (or whatever else Google decides to substitute for those ads). Remember – this is an all-or-nothing deal, so every single ad will be blocked, not just the annoying “takeover” ad that you’re showing to every new site visitor.
Google’s power play to control online advertising
So why exactly is Google doing this? The official reason is that Google is “building a better web for everyone.” Google is doing this because it loves us. It wants us to have the best possible browsing experience, and so it’s unilaterally taking on this Herculean task of cleaning up the web for you out of deep affection.
Of course, if you believe that, you probably also believe that Santa Claus climbed through your chimney last week. The real reason why Google is doing this is because its online advertising business model is under pressure. So many people are turning on “ad blockers” for Google Chrome that Google is getting worried. A web scrubbed of all ads is not a pleasant (or profitable) place for Google to live.
So far better for Google to control the types of ads that appear online by invoking the unchallenged authority of a respected third-party organization. However, the reality is that the Coalition for Better Ads includes both Google and Facebook as charter members, so it’s safe to assume that whatever works for Google and Facebook will show up as “approved” ads in the future. Just a hunch.
Going forward, then, it’s certainly worth the time and effort for your online business to get educated about this new advertising reality. On February 15, the world of online advertising is about to change forever.